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Starsector 0.95a is out! (03/26/21); Blog post: Skill Changes, Part 2 (07/15/21)

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Author Topic: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.  (Read 1246 times)

Kossilar

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Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« on: June 10, 2021, 08:05:11 PM »

I'm really frustrated with the battle system. Its so annoying to have ships randomly decide to leave the battle to defend a command point on the far side of the map where there are no enemy ships when I've already told them I need them in a specific place. The command point limitation means that autonomous choices by the fleet AI lead to a shortage of command points when I need to give orders at critical moments which leads to lost ships and lost battles.

Frankly, its really dumb that I can't order a ship to defend a point and expect them to stay there until I give them new orders. It doesn't make sense that when I order individual frigates to capture control points at the start of a battle, every other ship in the fleet automatically assigns itself an objective, forcing me to give them a new order to correct them. In a real fleet it would be an unacceptable dereliction of duty for a commander to ignore orders given by a superior, so why is this a constant scourge of every battle in this game? Ships shouldn't be allowed to make autonomous choices and assign themselves objectives, it defeats the entire purpose of commanding a fleet and the real-time-with-pause model of the battle system.
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Modo44

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2021, 02:44:04 AM »

Only unassigned ships will attach themselves to existing orders, and only to some extent (until that order is considered filled, so to speak). You are free to delete orders (no command points cost). You can add as many orders as you wish during the cooldown when using one command point. You can assign ships to specific orders, and that counts towards the "filled" parameter of that order. You can set the "Search and Destroy" order to make a ship hunt on its own ignoring other orders.
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Kossilar

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2021, 05:54:41 AM »

Ships I've given explicit orders to change commands autonomously. Ships that haven't been given explicit orders still shouldn't assume that I want them to fly off across the map by themselves, especially during battle. In huge fights with a lot of ships it's easy to miss when one or more ships has abandoned its post, necessitating more CP use to correct the problem.
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Generalstabdick

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2021, 06:12:15 AM »

Please show us an example of this behaviour, present a save game so we cant test it.

It's enterly possible that it's a bug, but we can't know for sure.
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Kossilar

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2021, 09:20:02 AM »

Starting fleet: https://imgur.com/LjKtWtj

Commanded two frigates on the right flank to capture Sensor Jammer Gamma, but every single ship on the map decided that means they should all go to Gamma. https://imgur.com/kmWGzeS

I've proved that ships are giving themselves orders, which IMO they should never, ever do. But they do it every time, sometimes leaving points they're defending or an active engagement.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 09:21:51 AM by Kossilar »
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Hiruma Kai

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2021, 09:49:11 AM »

Orders fall into two rough categories, fleet wide orders and specific ship orders.

Orders which you can give without selecting a specific allied ship are by definition, fleet wide.  Capture, Defend, Avoid for example.

If you hover over the Capture tool tip, it says "Order your fleet to capture this objective.  Enough ships will be assigned to match enemy forces in the vicinity.  Once the objective is secure, it will change to control".

You can order specific ships to capture, but that doesn't override the fact you've issued a fleet wide capture order.  You can actually see this if you issue a capture order without selecting a ship, your entire fleet assigns itself, issue another capture order to a 2nd objective, see 1 ship assign itself, then reassign that specific ship to something else (such as capturing the 1st objective), and another ship will change it orders to capture the 2nd objective.  So individual ships will follow individual orders, and ships with no specific orders will respond to fleet wide orders.

If you only have 1 fleet wide order, and no other specific orders, it seems reasonable to me the fleet will go do that.  As noted above, if you want a ship to ignore fleet wide orders, search and destroy is the order you want.

It's meant to allow people who want to be hands off and not pay attention throughout the battle to do so.  If the ships following a capture order are destroyed, ships without orders and that are not currently engaging will switch over to fleet wide orders, which makes some sense.

Now you and others may prefer a more hands on approach and want to indicate which ships go where all the time, which is a reasonable desire, but it does change the nature of the game, bringing it closer to a command all units individually RTS style, like Starcraft, as opposed to a looser command style which is meant to emphasize the player's flagship piloting.

So, it's possible to get the fleet to do what you want to do by issue more orders while the command frequency is open.  In general though, I find I can get away with issuing far fewer orders than I would need to do for a similar number of units in an actual RTS like Starcraft.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 10:58:00 AM by Hiruma Kai »
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Nick XR

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2021, 11:17:28 AM »

It is very frustrating mid battle to realize you haven't cleared a capture order and some valuable ship(s) have decided now is a great time to try and get a now-that-combat-has-started meaningless bonus (basically once the capital engage each other a 5% range bonus isn't nearly as useful as having your ships in position).

Maybe I'm deeply unimaginative, but I've personally found the best way to win battles is basically:

  • Capture objects that let you bring in more ships
  • Bring in more ships
  • Ignore all objectives
  • Form a ball of death and try not to lose any ships

I've found the capturing AI frustrating, when I want something captured, I want a ship to park on it and die if it has to.  Most of the time what seems to happen is my frigates I send to capture a point end up chasing some low-value ship across the map and not achieving anything but either wasting time or getting picked off because they're without support.

I get the idea is these orders are more like strong suggestions, by design, but that doesn't make it less frustrating when you just need simple things done (like capture and hold a point vs inferior or equal forces).

DuckFlux

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2021, 12:03:07 PM »

I've found the capturing AI frustrating, when I want something captured, I want a ship to park on it and die if it has to.  Most of the time what seems to happen is my frigates I send to capture a point end up chasing some low-value ship across the map and not achieving anything but either wasting time or getting picked off because they're without support.

I get the idea is these orders are more like strong suggestions, by design, but that doesn't make it less frustrating when you just need simple things done (like capture and hold a point vs inferior or equal forces).

I rely on the strong suggestion style of the capture objectives to spread the opposing fleet out as much as possible without exposing my own ships to too much risk. I think in this form it better fits battles where you always need a high DP value to bring on reinforcements during the battle.

I wonder if there is room to add some sort of commitment modifier to an order. Where by default they are 'do your best', but then you could switch the tone of the order to 'if you can't do it I'll find a officer who can!'
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Kossilar

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2021, 05:49:56 PM »

To me it defeats the purpose of having fleet combat and being a fleet commander if I can't reliably command my forces in battle. I mean the command points are annoying enough, but watching my ships change orders on their own is just really frustrating. I'll order a ship to defend a point and then a different ship will order itself to defend a new point, I'll change that ship back to it's original orders and then a different ship will change orders and the process repeats.

Maybe folk around here have gotten used to it but any gameplay mechanic that exists solely to waste my time is bad game design, period.

If I give no orders, my ships will move forward until they contact the enemy. If I select just two ships and order them to do something specific you can't argue that I've given an order to the entire fleet. I selected two ships and my orders were just for them. Having all the other ships autonomously give themselves their own orders, forcing me to put them back on task when I wouldn't otherwise have to is objectively bad game design.

If that isn't how the game works, then I shouldn't be allowed to select individual ships in the first place. I should give the order and the fleet should independently figure out how to best accomplish that. But why the hell would I want to rely on a computer to do what I can unequivocally do better? Unless the dev's intention is to create a Deep Blue style fleet command AI, I'm always going to make better choices than the computer. Frankly, I don't want the computer to make those choices. I want to make them myself, that's why I'm playing a game about being a fleet commander in the first place.
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robepriority

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2021, 06:32:25 PM »

I think the intent is to pause, give orders to every ship, and then start again.
That's one command point for the entire fleet.

SCC

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2021, 09:57:48 PM »

You can also unpause in the tactical screen, the open comms bar takes a while to run out.

Nick XR

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2021, 11:45:21 PM »

Maybe part of the issues is the usage of orders is a bit viral, in that once you start, you have to do it for all ships, all battle.  And if you do stop mid battle because you run out of CP, you'll likely get a behavior you really didn't want.  For example if you order multiple groups of ships different kill targets, when one of the targets is eliminated the newly unordered ships will try to attack the other targets (rather than ones nearby), unless of course you have command point to burn to fix this issue, at which point the process continues until you run out of command points.  The result of all of this is you can't really "play the game with this system" unless you're very careful or have some skills. Or what I do most of the time is just order all ships to follow me and cannonball into the enemy lines.

Maybe I'm doing this all wrong, I would love to know how to deal with the above scenario.

Hiruma Kai

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2021, 07:39:01 AM »

Maybe part of the issues is the usage of orders is a bit viral, in that once you start, you have to do it for all ships, all battle.  And if you do stop mid battle because you run out of CP, you'll likely get a behavior you really didn't want.  For example if you order multiple groups of ships different kill targets, when one of the targets is eliminated the newly unordered ships will try to attack the other targets (rather than ones nearby), unless of course you have command point to burn to fix this issue, at which point the process continues until you run out of command points.  The result of all of this is you can't really "play the game with this system" unless you're very careful or have some skills. Or what I do most of the time is just order all ships to follow me and cannonball into the enemy lines.

Maybe I'm doing this all wrong, I would love to know how to deal with the above scenario.

Viral is in an interesting way of putting it, and I can see that.  Starsector has a fairly unique (as far as games I've played) command system.  Most "command" type games, say an RTS like Starcraft or something out of the total war franchise, will tend lose every time if you don't issue any orders, and in fact other than shooting at things in range, your units will sit there until destruction.  Issuing orders is the only thing you do and units tend to perform those order to a mindless degree (baring morale type mechanics).  You also have to issue far more orders during a typical fight in those types of games than you do in Starsector to have similar levels of success.

I guess one question is, are you trying to always have engage orders up?  I don't generally feel a need for those to get the AI to engage.  Say you have an initial set of orders to get your fleet arrayed like you want, and assault some objectives.  That's 1 CP at the beginning.  Now you've spotted the enemy.  Cancel waypoint/defend orders (free), and issue 2 priority engage orders on two capitals on opposite sides, and the rest of your fleet on search and destroy (the ones you don't want focusing on the engage targets).  That's 2 CP total so far.  Then when one capital goes boom, you issue another set of search and destroy to the successful ships, and that's 3 and your done.  Unless you're issuing like 5 engage orders, you should have sufficient CP from the beginning of the game to do that each time.  The game is trying to make it so you don't need to tell every ship every time exactly who to engage.

If you're trying to use waypoints and engage orders to get ships to engage exactly how you want every time your ships are near enemies, then I can see running out of CP.  But that apparently is a design decision for the game.  To force the player to be somewhat hands off.  I can't see any other reason for command points other than to encourage you to close the map screen and to pilot your ship rather than playing fleet admiral 100% of the time.

If you prefer a more RTS and micromanaging style, which is a perfectly reasonable game preference, I'd suggest modding the game to give yourself more commands points and a shorter regeneration time for them.

You can easily modify the starsector-core/data/config/settings.json file, specifically these two lines:

   "startingCommandPoints":5,
   "baseSecondsPerCommandPoint":120,

It will change the nature of the game, but if you're not enjoying the fact you have limited orders, it's one way to change it more to your liking.  It allows you to play the game much more like Starcraft, where each unit can, and always needs to be issued specific orders (to compensate for the changing situation and the fact you're giving very specific orders in the first place).  If you do this, I highly recommend using the ctrl groups for faster selection of your ships.  If you tend to command your frigates to do captures, setting them to say group 1, and other ships to 2 and 3, lets you hit 2, search and destroy (S key), 3 S, then 1, right click on capture point.  Since the game remembers ctrl groupings from fight to fight, it can be a very quick way of setting up rather than individually hunting and clicking on the ships you want.
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Kohlenstoff

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2021, 08:28:44 AM »

Just because this thread is open. I encounter often the problem, that AI-Ships dont move away from enemies if ordered to do so. This can be devastating, if i try to get a ship into safety to vent while it is surrounded. The AI does just sit there and waits until it is done.

I found out. When the AI does not go on distance with move order, i use direct retreat order on this ship instead. The AI will follow this order way more often and reliable, then the move order. The AI goes on distance and can vent. Then i cancel the direct retreat order. The AI will re-engage automatically.
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DatonKallandor

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Re: Frustrated with AI ignoring my orders in battle.
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2021, 10:27:03 AM »

That's because telling a ship to move back to vent is way too fiddly and there's a reason there's no command for it. You're not supposed to do that. You are not supposed to micro your ships - they are not braindead starcraft units that follow your every command and nothing else.
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